« VorigeDoorgaan »
tianity, notwithstanding the corruptions of it, hath already effected in the state of the world. We might trace its happy influence in all the relations of life, in the constitutions of states, the spirit of their laws, and the mode of administration.-We might enter those charitable institutions, where every want is relieved, every disease mitigated, every calamity softened ; and hear the poor, the sick, and even the profligate, blessing the religion of Jesus.-We might compare the state of society in those countries, where the gospel has had any influence, with the condition of the nations, both in ancient and modern times, which have had no aid from revelation. From these inquiries it would appear, that just so far as men have listened to his instructions, and imbibed his spirit, have their distresses been relieved, and their social blessings multiplied. And the conclusion would follow, that when he is universally known and acknowledged, wars will cease to the ends of the earth ; neither the voice of the oppressor, nor the groan of the prisoner, will be heard; righteousness, and peace, and joy, will prevail.' ' p. 15-17.
We deein the following passages to be instances of Dr. Abeel's characteristic ability and eloquence.
· From the elevation of the sanctuary, we behold an Almighty arm supporting the chain of human events, extending its
agency or control to the most trivial as well as the most important; the most ordinary, as well as the most casual. God withholds the rain, and the nations pine under famine: he sends forth his destroying angel, and disease mingles with their breath; he shaketh the earth out of its place, and they are ingulphed in its bosom. The storm is his breath, the thunder his voice, the circle of the heavens his throne. But who rolls in blood the garment of the warrior, and amidst the confused noise of battle, turns the beam of victory ? The God of battles suffers the violence of human passions thus to punish and correct the crimes they produce.' p. 26.
The divine dealings in this respect are not the rule of human conduct. Vengeance belongeth unto the Judge of the whole earth; he alone hath a right to repay. In the case of the Canaanites, it is true, he employed his own people; but without doubt it was to them a dreadful task. No less than an explicit order from Heaven, could have induced them to undertake it; and even though the criminal was lawfully condemned, the executioner must have
wept as he gave the stroke. To spare his favourites froin the painful work of blood, God suffers it to be effected by the agencies of those whom he hath determined to punish or destroy. At the guilt of the agents, the good man shudders : over the misery of the victims, he weeps. He laments the effusion of human blood, the violence of human passions; and his efforts, as well as his prayers, tend to order and peace.' p. 28.
The idea in the last extract merits most careful notice, and is a clue to many of the mazes of Providence,
The conclusion of the Sermon manifests the pen of a master, and we recommend it to the reflection of all; reminding them, that there are “ benighted Indians” still, and that the New-York Missionary Society, before whom this Sermon was preached, still needs the assistance of those whom God has blessed with ability to bestow something for missionary purposes.
. From the pleasant habitation of Zion, let your imaginations carry you into the habitations of cruelty-the wilderness where the benighted Indian roams.-Behold the hoary chief. His enemy fell into his hands, and he triumphed in every groan which slow torture could produce. His son offended him, and he plunged a knife into his bosom :-his aged mother was accused of witchcraft, and he thought it lawful to take her life. His relatives have been slain, and he thirsts for the blood of the murderers. Weighed down with sorrow and with years, view him stretched upon the bed of death. The Comforter is afar off; the Balm of Gilead hath never been applied; no promise is heard to soften the anguish of disease. His only heaven is the country beyond the bills; its highest pleasure, food without the toils of the chase. The grounds of his hope are the trophies of his cruelty. I see him point to the number of these which hang around his hut: I hear him charge the youthful warrior to emulate his deeds, and to revenge him of his enemies. The earthly scene is closed : the awful realities of eternity open upon his soul. Oh, how hard must it be to die in total uncertainty! -how dreadful under such delusion!
have seen the de merit of sin, the case now presented will awaken all your compassion. If
you have known the value of the soul, you will not cease to pray for its redemption. If you rightly appreciate the instruction, the atonement, the unsearchable riches of Christ, the heathen shall not desire them in vain.' pp. 41, 42.
ON subjects of minor importance, minute explanation would be entirely unnecessary. But when those which embrace our faith, our habits, or our hopes, are questioned, it becomes à matter of serious and of fair discussion. Such is the subject before us; one which is most intimately connected with sacred truth, as well as the philosophy of modern times.
What is the true meaning of the word ádus? Its derivation is from a privative, and sidä, video, and signifies obscure, hidden, or invisible,
This word comprehends in its meaning the 50 and 3p of the Hebrews, the yievvce, ovparós, réé.Jos, and Minuse of the Greeks, and the Infernus or Orcus of the Latins; and the true or specific meaning of any of these words, is to be determined according to their connexion with a subject. In English, it may be represented as the state of departed spirits, as the invisible world, death, or the grave, heaven, as well as hell; but in fixing one definitive idea to the word, we think it may be reduced to this, The state of invisibility.
It may be proper to trace the Hebrew word which corresponds with the word adus in the Greek.
When an individual dies, it is said he has gone into 50. This word is derived either from spee, petivit, rogavit, because the grave is said to be insatiable, or always calling for victims; it may then be applied to the grave: or it may be derived from 5ev, laxus fuit, to dissolve, or to relax. Then it may signify death itself, because death for a time dissolves the powers of the body, or separates for a time the union of the body and the soul. 5187 then, or adns, is status vita functorum, orin other words, may be termed the state of dissolution.
If we seek proof that this word in Hebrew means the grave, (and not, as some suppose it to be, a literal or local hell) let us search the Scripture. Jacob, when mourning for the suspected loss of his son Joseph, exclaims, “I will go down to my son, mourning, into av."** The Septuagint translation corresponding with the expression, is xataßnoomses eis add, "I
* Gen. xxxvij. 35.
will," as termed in English,“ descend to bell;" and again, “ If mischief befall my son Benjamin, ye will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, n°*_ utažite us ada, ac cording to the Greek. Surely Jacob could not have supposed that by dying, or following his sons, he was immediately to de scend into a literal or local hell.
The Psalmist uses this expression, “My life draweth nigh to S1829"+ or didas, because by the persecution of his enemies, his life was almost always in imminent danger. And again, “ If the Lord had not been mine belper, my life bad dwelt in silence, in pan ;"I another word, corresponding in its meaning with the Greek word aidns. In the words of Hezekiab, there is a parallel also between 512 and didns, when he mentions " the grave cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee."
It is not the place of punishment alone, for all are represented as going to edus. Buxtorf represents the word corresponding in Hebrew, as signifying the place of human bodies when separated from the soul. The Greeks declare it to be the place of the dead, or use it simply as a description of death; as might easily be proved from Homer.
If Sheol or Hades, meant any common receptacle of souls, or a place of confinement of souls separate from the body, then the writers of the Old Testament must have been extremely mistaken in their views concerning it, for in Eccl. ix. 10. it is mentioned, that there was no wisdom or knowledge in Sheôl or Hades, and the Psalmist, no remembrance of God there, no praising him in Sheôl, Hades, or the grave. We might quote many other passages to prove further the correspondence, but these we deem sufficient.
The Scriptural account of the state to which we are reduced by death, is set forth by a sleep, or the absence of all thought or action; by rest, and a resting-place, or a home; or silence, or oblivion ; darkness, destruction, or corruption ; and very little is spoken of any thing transpiring between death and the judgment
* Gen. xlii. 38.
I Ps. xciv. 17.
Ą Ps. Ixxxviii. 3.
Isa. xxxvii. 18.
We know there are many objections proposed against the doctrine of adns not having regard to locality. As, for instance, in the celebrated passage of Isaiah, “ Hell (édns) from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming : it stirreth dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?” Here odns, or those in didrs, are represented as using language as well as action. This has almost universally been explained by the most eminent writers as a bold prosopopeia, a figure of personification. To suppose that it is to be taken in its literal sense, might be considered as absurd, as that because the trees, and rivers, and floods, lift up their voice unto God, that therefore they are to be considered as persons.
The mere circumstance of a superstitious notion of a separate or intermediate abode of departed spirits, proves nothing. It might easily be conceived how vulgar superstition might operate upon Jewish credulity, and represent the local abode of ghosts, or of departed spirits. We know that such opinions were very prevalent in ancient times. There was the idea of necromancy and of witchcraft. There were such things as “ wizards that peep,” who attempted to pry into futurity, and impose upon the understandings of the credulous by their intimacy with ghosts, and their power over the spirits of the departed. But if this proves any thing, it proves from the punishment to be inflicted upon a witch under the law, the displeasure and the judgment of God. “Thou shalt not permit a witch to live.” Why? for pretending to that which did not exist, which was not practicable or possible in other words, for lying-and the whole pretension connected with the raising of Samuel by the Witch of Endor is entire imposition, as is completely proved by Dr. Chandler.
The phrase in the Apostles' Creed concerning our Saviour's descent into hell,* was introduced about 400 years after the
"He descended into hell."